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Supreme Court and Homelessness: What the Grants Pass v. Johnson Case Could Do

"The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to take up the case of City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Gloria Johnson to determine whether if, under our Constitution, a local government can make it a crime to involuntarily live outside and unsheltered, when adequate shelter is not available. The Alliance has issued a statement that the Court should not allow such a policy.

The Supreme Court will review the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which followed precedent in the Ninth Circuit and elsewhere that states are not allowed to make it a crime to sleep outside if no inside space is available. These precedents are based on the prohibition in the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, against “cruel and unusual punishment.” The local officials in Grants Pass and elsewhere seek the ability to arrest and jail unsheltered people. In Grants Pass, the specific charge was “camping,” which police interpreted as sleeping with a blanket, pillow, or even a sheet of cardboard to lie on. Officials have been explicit about their hopes that people will go elsewhere..."

Image courtesy of Community Solutions.

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